Plans and Acting On Them
It’s the year end again and it’s time to reflect on 2015 and formulate plans for the upcoming year. Many of us may have one point of time been excited about coming up with ambitious new year resolutions but coming mid term into the new year, much of which never come to fruition. Then we get disillusion and get lazy and give up but to go on with the routine all over again.
Of course the first step to get anything done would be to think, talk or plan it. Going out without a plan and just doing something would also be foolish as it’s like going out and building a house and mid way finding out that you run out of materials or money.
Proverbs 21:5 (NIV) frames it nicely
The Plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Human beings are opinionated creatures and when we see something we do not like or can improve on, there can be three kinds of reactions, one would be to resign to the situation, voice our opinions or trying to come out with a solution or at least try to “teach” someone on how to do it right. Of course, there is an alternative reaction which is to sit back, look at the problem from a distance and ask yourself how you can improve on the issue and act on it. That last reaction is how solutions are form.
Such is the case of Mary Anderson who is someone to clearly thought outside the box and acted on it. Most people may not heard about her but would have seen her invention in action. In the winter of 1902 while visiting New York on a frosty day, she noticed that the trolley car driver had to reach through the windows to wipe the snow off the windshield by hand. Unlike the thousands of people who rode the trolley car, she went back, thought about the problem and came out with the concept of a mechanical device which the driver could turn from within the vehicle to wipe off the snow. She filed the patent for her idea in 1903. Granted that her patent wasn’t accepted by the automative industries at that time but now, every single four wheeled and above vehicles now come equip with a windshield wiper by default. Every invention and innovation that we take for granted came about because someone like Mary Anderson acted on solving a problem. It’s about scratching one itch or in her case, someones’ itch.
I have not always acted on my plans but I really hope to do so. Here are some tips I intend to follow through in the coming year.
1. Keeping the plans realistic
Most of us may not have the influence like Steve Jobs or Mother Teresa to become a world changer, so although big ambitious plans like bringing about world peace may be admirable, it is not always achievable.
However that said, I am not saying that we should give up big goals, it is however something that we can work to achieve in the long run. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it is however built by laying one brick at a time. Even if our plan involves the ambitious plan to eradicate world hunger, we can start from our backyard, it can start as simple as just buying a meal for the homeless or the poor in your neighorhood. We can impact the little part of our world. It’s definitely better than to not start because the dream is impossible to achieve by yourself.
If all your new year resolutions end up as unfulfilled or that you get discouraged easily then it is best to keep your first plans realistic, something within your ability. It can be as easy as reading the book that you wanted to read for ages or reorganizing your wardrobe.
Start with something simple and work up from there. Like any computer games, level 1 is always something within reach to complete and it gets progressively harder but completing one level at a time, will certainly build up your confidence level.
2. Understand your limitations
We are all human beings are most of us do not possess super powers so we need to be mindful of our shortcomings and limitations as much as our strengths. This comes hand in hand with the first tip. It’s not just our physical limitations but we would need to evaluate the time and finances we have that we can allocate to our plans as and where applicable.
In most instances, time is our biggest barrier. There is only 24 hours within a day and of which we will have spend a chunk of it working, studying or doing the daily chores and of course the necessary 8 hours of sleep. So time management is certainly important.
Of course, we should also not load up our To-Do-List with 100 big goals if they cannot be accomplished.
3. Provide for allowances
I am not sure about you but my days seldom turn out how I wanted it to be. Sometimes having to wake up and finding that something would derail my day with new problems just popping up one after another and there are days which I just wanted to give up but that’s another issue altogether.
There will always be speed bumps in our lives and we need to accept that. So it would make sense to provide for allowances in our plans. When we draft out our event calendar for the year, we should add buffer days in between so that if something were to go wrong, we would have the time to fix the issue and steer back on track. Of course when things fall into plan, those buffer days can be used as breathers or time to relax and reward ourselves for accomplishing the task.
Our body system need to take some breaks too and some times I do joke that getting sick is our body’s way of telling us that we need to slow down. Being a workaholic and a go-getter can be a good thing but we cannot neglect our health, our family and friends.
4. Breaking Up a Big Plan into smaller achievable goals
Coral Castle in South Florida is a work of wonder and it was a labor of love by one man, Ed Leedskainin who single-handed craved out some 1,100 tons of coral rocks between 1923 to 1951 to build his dream castle. I am not sure of what was in his mind but if I were to guess, it would have been to break down the plan by craving one rock at a time. It took him 28 years to see his work of art come to fruition.
As a programmer, I am often times faced with difficult challenges to make some big pain points of my customers and translating that into programming codes which would simplify the task at hand or to solve one or more issues. In the end, a single press of a button by the customer would have taken several hundreds of thousand of lines of codes in the background. None of which would been seen by the customer.
To illustrate the idea, here is my simplistic take on making a glass of tea.
It can be more complex if you want some speciality tea but you get the point. There are many steps to accomplishing a big task. Of course, making a glass of tea may not be really complex but the point is that many big plans or goals are actually made up of making little steps. If we break them down into achievable realistic steps, we will be able to reach the ultimate goal of completing the task at hand. Every little step forward is a step closer to the goal.
5. Journalling our Progress and achievements
I know we have gone past the age of keeping a diary but some times it helps to write down what we have done and our achievements. Of course that includes all the setbacks which we may face and overcome. Some times when we are hitting the proverbial brick wall, we can bring out our diary (physical or electronic) and look back at our past achievements. Some times this is important to bring us through the hard times.
If you are a person of faith, it could also be a good idea to spend some time on quiet reflection, prayer or getting solace from the scripture.
6. Getting a Buddy
Running a race alone can be tiring and at times, it is good to have a partner to keep us accountable and to encourage us on when we are discouraged. They can be a good sounding board and of course with anything, an outside perspective can be helpful is getting us back in course.
I hope you find all these helpful.